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Judas Iscariot

We have been discussing for the past several weeks the Lord’s Men, His disciples. We have seen that they were divided into three groups of four and each group had diminishing intimately with Jesus. But at the end of the three year ministry they all, except one, were trained and equipped to turn the world upside down. The question has been throughout the discussion what kind of men does God choose? First we have seen that the twelve were not near qualified for the monumental task they were called to do. If an executive were out looking for men for this work, he would not have chosen these twelve. They were just common folk, uneducated, working class people just like the most of us. They weren’t exceptionally talented and were unknown people in the society of the day. One thing they did have, which we all can have, is they were willing to make the commitment to see a work through. Where they a success? Yes, as we would not be here today having this conversation if it had not been for these men. Our lives are the testimony of their success.

This morning we are going to talk about the last member of the Lord’s Men, Judas Iscariot. Judas appears in all for list of the disciples and is always mentioned last. Peter is always first as the foremost and Judas is last because he is the one who betrayed Jesus. Every time his name is listed the remark follows, the one who betrayed Jesus. We see the Psalms make mention the person Judas in several Scriptures. Psalm 41:9 “Even my close friend in whom I trusted, Who ate my bread, Has lifted up his heel against me.” Psalm 55:12-14, 20-21 “For it is not an enemy who reproaches me, Then I could bear it; Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me, Then I could hide myself from him. But it is you, a man my equal, My companion and my familiar friend; We who had sweet fellowship together Walked in the house of God in the throng. He has put forth his hands against those who were at peace with him; He has violated his covenant. His speech was smoother than butter, But his heart was war; His words were softer than oil, Yet they were drawn swords.”

Looking at the name Judas its meaning is “The Praised One.” Others define the meaning as, “Worthy of Praise.” It was a common name in the first century and the half-brother of Jesus was named Judas but is referred to as Jude. Another disciple was named Judas but was called Thaddeus. For Judas Iscariot the name shows the paradox that he was and lived in. To be named the praised one and then to be the one who betrayed the Praised One is quite puzzling. Today the name is more associated with betrayal. Such as the Judas goat which leads other goats to their slaughter. Judas’ last name Iscariot means “man from Iscariot.” Judas was from the town of Iscariot. In Hebrew the word Iscariot is Kerioth which is a town in southern Judea and is mentioned in Joshua 15:25. “And Hazor-hadattah and Kerioth-hezron (that is, Hazor).” The significance of this location is that it makes Judas the only Judean in the twelve. All the rest of the disciples were from Galilee. This would have yet another strange relationship amongst the disciples. Such as Matthew the traitor and extortionist of the Jews with Simon the Zealot who would in any other circumstance have killed him. And now Judas from Judea and the rest of the other disciple from Galilee.

The Jews from Judea we a proud people above the country rough necks of the Galilean neighborhood. The tendency was those from Judea looked down on the Galileans. They considered the Galileans to be inferior to themselves. This would have made Judas an outsider in the group and he probably had a time cracking into the group’s confidence.

We don’t see in the Scriptures Jesus calling Judas as we see with the others. It seems he just appeared among the twelve. We do know that Jesus chose him after a night of prayer with the Father. (Luke 6:12-13) Judas was probably attracted to Jesus. Like the others Judas we looking for the Messiah. He was looking for the One who would establish the Kingdom and free the Israelite nation from the bond of the Romans. The one who would establish order and peace to the Jewish nation. The one who would return prosperity to the people. I can see only one good quality in Judas and that is his passion. I suspect that he and Simon the Zealot were shearing the same hopes in riding the Romans from their land. Then came Jesus and Judas was attracted to Him because he saw in Jesus power. He saw a man that could perform mighty deeds and could teach a philosophy that far exceeded any that had been taught before. He saw a man that truly lived the Scriptures like no other man before. He saw a man that just might accomplish what he and so many had been looking for. The other disciples like Judas, had thoughts of their position in the new kingdom, as we have seen James and John vying for positions through the persuasion of their mother. The difference with Judas was that he wasn’t looking for the benefit of anyone else but himself. The Scriptures tell us that Judas was a man of great greed and selfishness. (John 12:6) So Judas chose Jesus, as he saw a man that could advance his own desires. The desire to rid the nation of the Romans, the man that could establish the kingdom, and if he could make money from a position of power, all the better for him.

And out of the many followers of Jesus in that day after prayer Jesus chose Judas. It was no secret throughout Jesus’ ministry that one of the twelve would betray Him. Jesus said that to them several times. Jesus knew that Judas would betray Him on the day that He chose Judas. Jesus knew that Judas would betray Him on the day that He created Him before the foundation of the world. Jesus knew that Judas was the man to fulfill the prophecies we read in the Palms and other prophecies about His betrayal. The difference between Judas choosing Jesus and Jesus choosing us is that we chose Jesus to seek His Kingdom and His righteousness, we are seeking to better our eternal spiritual life. Judas was seeking only to better his physical life. It is a very sad thing that today there are many Christians who are seeking the things of the physical world instead of the eternal things of the spiritual world.

Slowly Judas’s dream of position and power through a kingdom here on earth began to fade. While others had faded or walked away from Jesus, Judas stuck it out. Now after near three years Judas began to realize that Jesus was not the man who would bring about what Judas had hoped for. We see Judas’s pilgrimage to betrayal begin its last steps in John 12:2-8. Jesus is at the home of Martha and Mary where Mary anoints the feet of Jesus with very costly perfume. Judas was upset that Mary had used the perfume in this way. So Judas said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and given to poor people?” It was not that Judas cared about the poor it was that Judas wanted the value of the perfume for himself. Judas was the keeper of the moneybox, he was the treasurer, and he often stole from the treasury. A man filled with greed is often a thief as well. I think Judas began to see that if there was any wealth to come in the new kingdom it would be used in what he thought to be frivolous ways.

The straw that broke the back of Judas came with the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem the following day. There Jesus was in all His glory riding on a donkey with throngs of people shouting with joy that He had come into their city. Then in the midst of the crowds Jesus tells of the grain of wheat that must fall and die in order to bring forth much fruit. (John 12:24-25) Judas then knew that Jesus had not come to conquer but to die. There would be no kingdom, no position of power, and no money to be made. There was nothing in this for Judas and he slipped off to make a deal with the Jewish rulers who wanted to kill Jesus. (Matthew 26:14-19) There Judas sold the Lord and his soul for thirty pieces of silver, fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah. “I said to them, “If it is good in your sight, give me my wages; but if not, never mind!” So they weighed out thirty shekels of silver as my wages. Then the LORD said to me, “Throw it to the potter, that magnificent price at which I was valued by them.” So I took the thirty shekels of silver and threw them to the potter in the house of the LORD.” (Zechariah 11:12-13) So that day Jesus’s feet were anointed in love and He was betrayed in hate.

That night at the Last Supper Jesus displays the proper humility towards His disciples as a lesson. Jesus went about the room washing the feet of all His disciples, even the feet of Judas. Jesus, who knows no hate in His heart even washes the feet of the man who would betray him. And after Jesus had finished He said you are clean, but not all of you are clean. (John 13:5-10) As they all were sitting around the table eating Jesus announced that one of them would betray Him. Several of them asked if it were they who would betray Him. Peter asked John to find out who it was that would betray Jesus. John asked and Jesus quietly answered, “That is the one for whom I shall dip the morsel and give it to him.” Then Jesus dipped the bread into the paste and offered it to Judas. In that day this was a way to honor a guest at the table. Jesus honored Judas by offering him the soped bread. Judas ate it and then Satan entered into him. When we allow our hearts to become so vile and wicked we also allow an easy passage for the devil to come in and run our lives. Jesus quietly said to Judas, “What you do, do quickly.” (John 13:12-27)

Early that morning Judas returned to the secret place that Jesus and His disciples we meeting, the Garden of Gethsemane. Judas in the darkness of the morning hour came with the Temple guards and Roman soldiers to take Jesus away to His death. With a kiss of betrayal and deceit Judas would sell out His Lord. Jesus greeted Judas by calling him friend. Jesus, who knew only love called even His enemy friend. Oh what a friend we have in Jesus. Then the guards took Jesus away to His death.

After the crucifixion of Jesus Judas was so convicted by his conscious, which condemned him for what he had done, his heart was filled with regret. Instead of running to the one whom he betrayed and asking forgiveness he went to those who set him up, the Jewish rulers. Those of us who live in the worldly way see forgiveness in the terms of money and restitution. It is only a physical look upon the life we live. If it is money that buys forgiveness then I would pay it.Peter denied Jesus that very same day, and he wept bitterly as Judas, but he prayed to his God for forgiveness in the spirit, while Judas sought to repay the tempters. It is not man that we sin against it is God’s law that we have broken. It is only God that can forgive us. They would not take the blood money from Judas so he threw it at them and ran away and hung himself in shame. The Jewish rulers fulfilled Zachariah’s prophecy and bought potter’s field with the money.

I see Judas and a man of lost opportunity. He spent three years sharing in the ministry of Jesus, God in the flesh, and never knew who He was. The others took time but they came to see that it is not about the physical world but it is the spiritual world. Judas never could see that far as his attention was in the here and now and what could be had from a dying world. Judas wasted the great privilege that was available to him. He had the opportunity to sit upon a throne in heaven and rule one of the tribes of Israel but traded it for thirty pieces of silver, worth about twenty dollars today. Judas is the proof of how far the love of money, greed and selfishness, can take a man down. I am sure that it took Judas down to the lowest place in Hell. “The Son of Man is to go, just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.” (Matthew 26:24) Judas served God’s purpose and lost the reward of those who faithfully serve Him also. God will use the unrighteous as well as the righteous to serve Him if He so desires for He is the Lord of all. Judas served Jesus for three years and fulfilled Old Testament prophecy in the end. Sadly Judas is like so many professing Christians today, serving in the Church and sitting in the pews on Sunday and are like Judas who spent three years with Jesus in intense training to be an Apostle never knew Him. If one does not know Jesus, how will he know you? Oh how sad, how tragic, and how unthinkable it will be on that day to hear. “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.” (Matthew 7:23)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, June 8, 2014

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